STL@ARI: Parra opens scoring with a leadoff home run

MILWAUKEE -- When outfielder Adam Eaton went on the disabled list with an elbow injury, there were questions about who would fill his role at the top of the lineup.

The answer, it appears, is Gerardo Parra.

The D-backs outfielder is off to a torrid start at the plate, collecting 11 hits in his first 24 at-bats heading into Sunday's game with the Brewers.

"He's barreling balls, for sure," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.

Gibson cited Parra's improvement at hitting breaking pitches as well as the presence of Martin Prado as reasons for Parra's hot start.

"He hit a breaking ball the other night, two strikes, down the left-field line," Gibson said. "So he's made some adjustments, he's learned how to stay back better. He's a strong kid. He's off to a good start. It certainly helps him to be playing every day right now, too. Prado's been a great influence on him. He's happy."

Gibson maintaining lineup continuity early on

MILWAUKEE -- Through the first week of the 2013 season, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson has been more consistent with his lineups than in the past.

Gibson used the same lineups Wednesday and Friday, subbing in Eric Chavez at third base Saturday and then writing out the same lineup with Chavez for Sunday's finale against the Brewers.

Gerardo Parra (leadoff), Martin Prado (second), Aaron Hill (third) and Cliff Pennington (eighth) have hit in the same spot every game.

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Miguel Montero have been moved between the fourth and fifth spots, depending on whether there's a right-hander or lefty on the mound.

"You'd like to find a good mix of guys and put them in the right spot for the right reasons," Gibson said. "I think it helps the guys if you don't have to move it around a lot. That's not to say that I won't move it."

Ross on rehab assignment, could return Friday

MILWAUKEE -- Injured outfielder Cody Ross could return as soon as Friday, when the D-backs play host to the Dodgers.

Ross, who has not played in a Major League game since March 3 after straining his left calf, is currently on a rehab assignment with Class A Visalia.

Ross is slated to play five innings in the outfield Monday, and if all goes according to plan, he would fly back to Phoenix and possibly play nine innings in an extended spring game Thursday before being activated Friday.

As they have done throughout the process, the D-backs will err on the side of caution.

"We signed him to play, so when he's ready to play and be able to make contributions on a daily basis then I think you think about bringing him back," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I don't want him to play minimal innings and then think that he's going to be able to play every day and not get hurt again."